Notes from a wearables developer

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by Cubemmal, Sep 10, 2014.

  1. Cubemmal, Sep 10, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2014

    Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2013
    I've been using and developing for wearables for a long time. From the Pebble (the first one - ugh) to Google Glass, Android Wear and so forth I've been working with these, and looked forward to Apple's announcement. Some thoughts, FWIW ...

    The Bad

    • Very surprised at the look. I'm using a Metawatch presently*, and Apple's appears thicker and about the same size. Not particularly attractive, no matter the sapphire and other design bits, it looks clunky and little different from other players.
    • No mention of battery. Battery life is the achilles heel of wearables. The problem is that even if the battery is 4 days to begin with, it will quickly get worse. I think the proximity to a heated body warms up the batteries too much and degrades their performance.
    • Surprised at the lack of sensors. Maybe I got swept away by the rumors, but it seems like the only augmentation to your phone is pulse rate.
    • Extremely surprised at the Crown and Friend button below that. I somehow doubt Jobs would have allowed this. They look bulbous and stupid, and I just don't get it. A simple swipe along the edge of the screen would have performed the job of zooming just fine. For the Friend button what about hot corners? Million ways to skin that cat.


    • The screen, OLED? This will kill battery, but gives a better screen experience. However it will probably be unusable in sunlight. The Metawatch uses eInk, which can be hard to read but after a few years the battery is still a champ.
    • Sapphire is a nice but unnecessary touch. Glass would have been cheaper and would have handled wear just as well (e.g. the Sapphire is overkill)
    • No lightning connector? How will we developers debug then? Presumably via a TCP/IP connection. This is a beautiful application for a Lightning port, but then not having it is a plus.
    • Wireless is a plus in that you won't have to be right next to your phone all the time. However the wireless stack is high power, this will help kill battery.
    • No mention of sleep tracking. I'm curious how that will work, or maybe it won't be possible, or you won't want to do it because having to wear the thing.
    • The price, it's on the absolute edge of what they could charge. Any more and I personally would lose interest.
    • The time accuracy. 50 mS is actually hard to get, but ... why? It's absolutely unusable. The only way you could make use of that kind of accuracy is with a hardware trigger. I actually laughed when they kept hitting that feature, that has to be one of the silliest things I've seen Apple do in a long time. And how many engineering resources did that take away from other work?

    The Good

    • Stainless on the non sport versions, I was afraid they'd do something stupid like aluminum on the range. A watch has to be indestructible.
    • Inductive charging, and a nice solution too it appears.
    • The software is the real standout - the new emojis, heartbeat and general integration is the standout. A wearable has to be absolutely seamless and this appears to be the best of that so far.

    Really it looks good but frankly the only standout so far is the software. I am looking forward to developing on it however.

    * The Metawatch - also stainless and square

  2. bigred7078 macrumors 6502a


    May 6, 2010
    Personally, I like the idea of the digital crown. My final judgement will be made once I can actually try it out myself. Regarding the looks/style, I was a little disappointed at first since I prefer circular watch faces but I am really starting to dig the premium look of this device. From a usability perspective, this watch face makes more sense than a round one since we are going to be reading texts and other notifications. More text should be displayed.

    Is it confirmed the screen is OLED?
  3. ZombiePete macrumors 68020


    Aug 6, 2008
    San Antonio, TX
    MetaWatch: Available at many fine online retailers! Order today, and use the promo code "Cubemmal" to get ten percent off!


    Yeah, some of what you're saying is true. I think the fact that they didn't mention battery life is a shame; either it's below par relative to other smartwatches which is pitiful or it's way better and they want to save that fact to ensure that no one jumps the gun on them before they can release it. Somehow I doubt it's the latter.

    Frankly, though, Apple is falling behind. Watching the keynote last night (since the feed kept *&$%@&% up when I was trying to watch it live) I kept cringing when they would talk about a feature on the iPhone and how amazing it was knowing that it was either less than what a competitor offers (PPI, for instance) or is something that has been available on other phones for years (e.g. NFC). Yes, what Apple offers is more than the sum of its parts, but that's something that's a lot harder to quantify and argue for when they're touting these individual attributes as if they're groundbreaking.

    Anyway, I think we have some more to learn about the Apple Watch before I make any decisions about it. The starting price is affordable enough for me, but I need to really know what it's going to do for me. If I get the impression at all that I'm going to have to top up the battery during a regular day, forget it.


    I like the crown too; I dig mechanical interfaces on devices like this, when they work well. One of the reasons I prefer the Home button on the iPhone to Android's all digital interface.
  4. Cubemmal thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2013
    Actually I didn't promote the Metawatch, personally I think it sucks due to the integration. Partly that's due to Apple however, they seemingly left in some bugs to the low power BT stack, I think to prevent third party devices from working perfectly.

    Bringing up the Meta was just to highlight that the Apple Watch isn't a particularly new design.

    Which some isn't true then? If you're going to complain about my points, ya better be specific :)


    Some will like it, some will hate it. I'll bet that the Crown is gone in a generation or two. Why bring back the skuemorphism from the first days of mechanical watches?

    Nothing is confirmed, but it's surely either OLED (likely) or TFT.
  5. bigred7078 macrumors 6502a


    May 6, 2010


    I think they are introducing the crown not only as a smart way to interact with the interface on a tiny device but also as a way to appeal to traditional watch wearers. Not for everyone but people can either take it or leave it.
  6. ZombiePete macrumors 68020


    Aug 6, 2008
    San Antonio, TX
    Yeah, it was a joke, hence the winky face.
    Hehe, alright. A lot of what you posted was simply opinion and I don't agree with all of yours. I'll try to address specifically what I didn't necessarily agree with:

    I disagree, I think it looks really nice and the customizability of the bands is a great idea, IMO.

    I do agree with this, and feel like this will be a "make or break" specification for the Apple Watch. Just wanted to throw that in there.

    Four days battery life for a watch like this would blow the competition out of the water, from what I've seen of other like devices. Whatever affect body heat may have on a battery, if they started out with a battery life like this they would lead the pack for touchscreen, full color watches.

    That it didn't live up to the expectations of the rumor mill shouldn't really be a knock against it; what more does it need to do the job it was designed for? I genuinely don't have the answer to that.

    I like them.

    Let it go. Jobs said he wouldn't do a lot of things that have worked out extremely well for Apple (e.g. the iPad Mini).

    I understand not all the Apple Watches will have sapphire faces, so this is an optional feature I guess. I don't have a problem with that at all.

    If you already think it's chunky, putting a lightning port in it isn't going to help. Besides, with a wearable they should be aiming to make it as waterproof as possible, not putting holes in it that open components to water damage.

    You must not know any watch/time enthusiasts. My father-in-law is nuts about time and accuracy; he goes crazy trying to keep his Windows computers on an NTP server that is as close to the ms as possible to the atomic clock. He talks about this **** all the time; I'm not exaggerating. People who are into timepieces for their ability to keep precise time really do care about this kind of accuracy, because it really bothers them. He loved that this feature was mentioned in the keynote.
  7. omenatarhuri macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2010
    Personally i'm bamboozled by the crown. They started off my making sure everyone new that you can't touch watch screens, because it obscures the view and is a stupid design! And quite paradoxically most of the remaining presentation seemed to be using touch rather than the crown. It's almost as if there had been two or more teams doing presentations/videos on their own after which they just presented in sequence.
  8. Cubemmal thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2013
    I know :)

    Well I hate mentioning the Meta again but ... it starts out with about five days. It's all due to the eInk which takes almost no power to maintain.

    Which is another point, the LCD screens are dark when you're not looking at them, and will light up and down randomly as you move around.

    I'm saying that it isn't doing a lot with sensors. They could have added more, and no doubt will as time goes on.

    That's why it's a mixed point.

    Fair point. I'm a physicist and know better the vagaries of time, I guess it makes some people feel good getting as close to NIST as they can.
  9. ZombiePete macrumors 68020


    Aug 6, 2008
    San Antonio, TX
    Yeah, that's a fair observation. Part of the problem, I think, is that they seem to be cramming a lot onto the watch that doesn't necessarily belong there; Maps, for instance, is not an app that I would expect to have on my phone. Now, I can see my phone pushing turn-by-turn directions to my phone, but actually browsing and scrolling through maps doesn't seem Watch-intuitive. I thought that weird home screen of bubbles was odd too; doesn't seem all that intuitive to me, but I can't make a real judgment call until I see more.

    It seems to me that it would be much more Apple-like to make the determination that A, B, C features are right for the best user experience on a watch, and X, Y, Z features aren't going to work right so we're not going to add them. What people "think" they want on their wrist just may not be the best experience and Apple has traditionally been very good at focusing on the latter.

    Honestly, I'm on the fence about the whole thing. I feel about the Watch largely the same way I felt about the iPad when it was first announced: what use would I possibly get out of this thing? I initially laughingly dismissed the iPad as a big it's a key tool in my gadget arsenal.
  10. sebastian... macrumors regular

    Sep 11, 2011
    MetaWatch is interesting. I get it's using reflective screen to save battery and have daylight visibility. That's a plus. But why the low resolution ? I don't understand these 2 extremes : Either super high res LCD/oled screen with fluid animations and 1 day battery or very low res, monochrome, low quality animations and a few months battery.

    Why not a monochrome daylight visible high resolution screen ? I'm guessing it will still have longer battery life. Or even better, a color reflective screen. No one can say the technology doesn't exist. Nintendo did the color reflective screen a long time ago. With fluid animations. And as an added bonus you can also have backlight indoors. Just like Nintendo did.
  11. jeremiah239 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 1, 2007
    239 Area, FL
    I stopped reading when you said body temperature degrades the battery. My iPhone gets hot when playing games and my MacBook gets even hotter and the battery's are fine. No way body temp is gonna be an issue on a device designed for your body!

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